A Russian-registered cargo ship allegedly carrying illegal weapons and explosives en route Lagos, has been detained by South African police.
Reports said the cargo ship, LADA, was arrested on Sunday at the Port of Nura, near Port Elizabeth city, following a tip-off and security checks on the vessel revealed arms and explosives believed to be illegal in 20 containers.
The vessel had reportedly left Madagascar before stopping at Ngqura port outside the eastern city of Port Elizabeth, where it was detained after a security check on Sunday.
“We are aware that she has dangerous cargo — explosives and weapons — on board,” Olwethu Mdabula, spokeswoman for the Transnet state transport company told AFP.
She refused to give further details.
Brigadier Hangwani Mulaudzi, spokesman for the Hawks police investigative unit, confirmed to AFP that the vessel was carrying weapons.
“This is a very, very sensitive matter. It is receiving attention,” he said.
Local reports said police had searched the vessel after an anonymous tip-off and found weapons and explosives worth about $3.5 million in 20 containers on board.
It was learnt that an investigation by South Africa’s criminal investigation organisation – The Hawks – revealed that the cargo was heading for Nigeria’s commercial city Lagos and the United States.
It was learnt that the detained ship had sailed since May from Ust-Luga, Russia, Baltic sea, visiting India, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Kenya, Mozambique and Tanzania ports prior to its arrival in South Africa.